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Residents tour Rosemont Preserve

Community had pitched in nearly $100,000 to complete purchase of land.

June 30, 2012|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • Former owners of the land Terry Villanueva, center, and her son Justin Whalin, right, received a small token of appreciation during the Rosemont Preserve Celebration in La Crescenta. Volunteers removed non-native species of plants for about one hour before docent-led walks through the new preserve.
Former owners of the land Terry Villanueva, center, and… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

The Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy welcomed dozens of people Saturday to tour 8 acres of open space known as the Rosemont Preserve, which they helped procure through donations.

Community members raised $97,500 in May to help buy the property on Rosemont Avenue for educational and recreational use.

“So many of you played an important role to make this happen,” the conservancy's executive director, John Howell, told people who attended Saturday's acquisition celebration for the preserve.

La Crescenta residents Desiree and Paul Rabinov pledged $15,000, while two other area residents, Henry Fliegel and Scarlett Hibner, donated a total of $26,000, according to the conservancy, an Altadena-based nonprofit land trust. Other residents and community groups also pledged funding to secure the property.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich secured $350,000 in county funding, a majority of the amount needed to buy the property.

“This is just a success of how communities can improve by working with each other and working with your local elected officials,” Antonovich said. “You planted a seed, and you are watching it grow today.”

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The conservancy will work with community members to create education and restoration programs.

Goals in maintaining the property could include to conserve and restore natural habitat, identify and prioritize areas for improvement, and provide suitable public access, said Frank Simpson, a landscape architect who is working on a management plan for the preserve.

Thirty-one species of birds, arroyo toads, extensive plant life, mule deer, mountain lions, bears, bobcats and coyotes have been identified at the site, according to a preliminary biological survey.

The property rests at the top of Rosemont Avenue at the entry to Goss Canyon — a roughly 300-acre, privately owned hillside. The Whalin Family, which owns the La Cañada Preparatory and the Learning Castle in La Cañada Flintridge, bought the property in 2005.

The family withdrew plans to build a school on the land after neighbors voiced concerns. They instead agreed last year to exclusively allow the conservancy to buy the property.

Community members formed the Rosemont Society, a group dedicated to maintaining the property, creating programs, running docent-led tours and financially supporting the preserve.

“This is going to be a community drive and community-generated organization,” Paul Rabinov said.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help maintain the preserve may contact the conservancy at (626) 796-0782.

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